By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – The kids are alright. Who are they?
That’s a great question. From the top to the bottom, Jeffersonville’s basketball has undergone quite the complete transformation. New coach, albeit a familiar name in its rich history. New roster, including a starting lineup of five sophomores, albeit the baby Red Devils are off to a hot start.
With so many changes, with the adjustment to varsity competition. all those sophomores could have been jinxed. But Jeffersonville will invade BNL Fieldhouse on Friday night, seeking to maintain its perch atop the Hoosier Hills Conference.
The Red Devils (8-6 overall) have adapted quite well to the league, aging quickly while going 4-0 in the chase for another championship. They’ll also seek their fifth straight win in the series with Bedford North Lawrence (8-5 overall, 2-1 in the league).
“We have gone through some growing pains, adjusting to the speed and physicality of varsity basketball,” said first-year coach Sherron Wilkerson, a star on Jeffersonville’s 1993 state champion squad. “Additionally, teams preparing to negate our strengths offensively and defensively has added an extra challenge to playing at this level.
“Winning the HHC conference is a very special accomplishment. Our goal at the beginning of this season was to give ourselves a chance at the end of the conference schedule to win the championship. With two conference games left, we have a chance to accomplish our goal.”
Talent can trump experience, and the Devils have plenty in their 2025 class. Tre Singleton, a 6–7 power in the post, averages 14 points and 8.8 rebounds, while 6-4 forward P.J. Douglas contributes 14.1 points and 6.2 boards. Around them, they have shooters with Michael Cooper (12.3) and Shawn Boyd (6.9 points, 3.1 assists).
“It’s a very good class,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “It starts with Singleton. He’s a legitimate D-1 player at some point, he makes them go with his post presence. Douglas is a really nice player, and you surround those two with guys who can shoot. They get open looks because people are worried about double-teaming the post.
“Defensively they’re very athletic, and their goal is to wear you down over 32 minutes. That’s something we have to be wary of. We can’t get in a track meet and let them wear us down over the course of the night. When they apply pressure with the length they have, with the quickness they have, they can go on runs.”
BNL, which has won four of its last five games, will have to counter that attack with its patient, spread style, dictating the tempo. Colten Leach (17.8 points, 9.6 rebounds) has been the main weapon for the Stars, but their success has been based on balance, with senior Colton Staggs (9.9) and with timely contributions from someone stepping up as a third option. Defense has also been tougher, with the Stars holding their opponent to 40 or fewer points four times during the recent surge.
“I think we’ve played well,” Hein said. “More than anything else, we’ve played well defensively. We’ve shared the ball offensively, we’ve been more balanced. Getting everyone involved has been a big key. We’re making the opponents pick the poison. We’re a lot better off when we have that balance. It’s hard to guard five.”
“BNL is well coached, well organized, really good defensively, very patient on offense, and ultra disciplined,” Wilkerson said. “They are all really good shooters, which makes them really hard to contain. Especially on their home floor.”
Last year, the Devils swept two games with BNL. Will Lovings-Watts hit a last-second shot to deck the Stars 44-42 (capping Jeff’s rally from a 12-point deficit) during the regular-season clash at Jeffersonville, then Brandon Rayzor-Moore had 22 points during a 61-48 sectional victory.
JEFFERSONVILLE at BNL
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Jeffersonville 8-6 (4-0 in HHC); BNL 8-5 (2-1 in HHC)
Sagarin ratings: Jeffersonville 81.43; BNL 79.43
Last meeting: The Red Devils swept two games from BNL last year, winning the regular-season game 44-42 at Jeffersonville before prevailing 61-48 in the sectional at Seymour.
Previous game story: Red Devils turn out the lights
Game notes: Jeffersonville coach Sherron Wilkerson was a key member of Jeffersonville’s 1993 state championship. He formerly coached two seasons at Madison. The Red Devils have won four straight in the series.
Bedford NL Stars
F – Kaedyn Bennett 6-2 Sr.
F – Colten Leach 6-2 Sr.
G – Colton Staggs 6-0 Sr.
G – Trace Rynders 5-9 Jr.
G – Noah Godlevske 5-8 Jr.
Jeffersonville Red Devils
F – Tre Singleton 6-7 So.
F – Raijon Laird 6-4 So.
G – P.J. Douglas 6-4 So.
G – Michael Cooper 6-2 So.
G – Shawn Boyd 5-10 So.